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Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM PST

What real secession looks like

by Cosecant

The scale of the right wing post-election temper tantrum is breathtaking.  I guess that I should learn to expect anything from people who talk about "FEMA concentration camps" or who live in constant fear of impending martial law,  but the shear number of conservative lunatics in America keeps surprising me.  As of this afternoon some 700,000 people had signed petitions asking for secession.

Part of the fun of winning this election is getting to laugh at people like that.  You guys at this site did a great job.  This was a not just a great victory for Americans, the whole world owes you a debt of gratitude for your hard work.   By all means, enjoy yourselves.

I've been reading some posts from people saying to "let 'em go".  As someone who lives in a country where secession is a very real possibility, I would not suggest talk like that.  Quebec separatism is a real problem for us.  I'm not sure many Americans know just how close Canada came to actually breaking up.

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Labor is getting crushed these days.  Minimum wage is too low almost everywhere.  Union membership is down.  Anti-union legislation has been passed in many states.  Scott Walker's recall victory hurt everyone in the western world, not just Americans.  After walker's win, here in Canada, we were treated to a wave of op-eds along the lines of "We need Scott Walker here"

I'm a huge proponent of unions.  But just because a group has the word "union" attached to their name, does not mean that we should automatically support them.

Hockey players collect 57% of league revenue.  NBA players take 50%,  baseball players take 45% and NFL players take 47%.  Because hockey is a smaller market than the other major sports, the overhead costs as a percentage of total revenue is also much higher.  It's proportionally a lot more expensive to operate an NHL franchise.

Many NHL franchises are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.  The Phoenix Coyotes have been bankrupt for 3 years.  Atlanta lost their franchise for financial reasons last year.  There are at least 5 or 6 teams in serious danger of going under.

In the past 6 years, the average NHL salary has increased from $1.6 million to $2.4 million, a 50% increase.  In case you think that the people on the bottom are getting screwed, the minimum NHL salary is $525,000.

Let's not forget that the NHL players union is represented by one Donald Fehr:  the man who single-handedly ruined baseball.  (I'm a very bitter Expos fan).

I'm not saying that the owners are blameless in this, but the NHL players had a terrific deal prior to the lockout even though they fought against it tooth and nail.

There are plenty of labor unions that are under attack right now.  Let's save our support, energy and political capital for people who actually need our help.

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Like many of the rest of you, I really enjoyed watching the right's meltdown this week.  While they were busy unskewing polls to avoid confronting reality, our side was busy winning the election.  But while this election was a broad triumph for science over ignorance, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't look at polling results critically.

The polls right before the election showed amazing agreement.  The last 30 polls released before the election all fit into a narrow 5% range from Obama +4 to Romney +1.  In fact, the only poll to show Obama +4 was a Democracy Corps poll, a Democratic pollster.  The only polls to show Romney leading were Gallup and Rasmussen, two pollsters with some of the strongest pro-Romney house effects. If we take these polls out, all of the polls fit into an astoundingly small 3% window.

This is fantastic considering some of the obstacles pollsters have to deal with:

Non-response bias:  Up to 9 out of 10 people refuse to answer polls
Sampling bias:  Are some types of voters more likely to answer polls?  Should we include cellphones or not?
Likely voter screen:  The mother of all polling dilemmas, how do we determine if someone will actually vote?

Yet, with all of these challenges, nearly all of our pollsters projected results within a tiny 3% window.  These results seem to be too good to be true.

In fact, the results may be too good to be true.  I'll let you decide.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 01:33 PM PST

Swing State Weather Forecast

by Cosecant

Here is the up-to-date weather forecast for most swing states tomorrow.  I've tried to include most major cities.

The election weather forecast for most major cities in swing states
Source:  weather.com

All told, this is very good news.  I'll take good weather in eight and a half out of ten states any day!

Discuss

There have been a lot of articles in the media lately saying that 538 is overestimating Obama's chances.  I don't blame them.  Republicans need to keep their supporters enthusiastic.  If it is a forgone conclusion that they will lose, who would want to spend their time volunteering or give money to the campaign? Those in the traditional media want an interesting story.  It's in their financial interest to make this campaign seem as close as possible.

Nate Silver currently estimates the president's chances of winning at 83.7%.  I'm going to make the case that this is too LOW.  If I had to guess, I would put the president's chances at closer to 95% right now.  Here's why:

1) Lag time
Nate Silver has admitted himself that his model is slow to react to trends.  The model is mostly based on polls.  Some of the polls included in averages started in the field 5 or 6 days ago.  President Obama's widely praised response to Hurricane Sandy will take a while to digest.  If this were a non-election week, it might take until next Wednesday to fully see the extent of Obama's bounce.

538 also smooths out short-term fluctuations.  It is slow to react to poll changes when there is a reason for the fluctuations.  It took over a week for the model to really show the effect of the Denver debate.   I expect Obama's win percentage to continue to creep upward as we get closer to Tuesday, but right now, 83.7% is too low.

2) GOTV
Most anecdotal evidence points to a vastly superior Democratic ground game.  How do you quantify this?  You can count campaign offices or campaign contacts, but this is very crude and probably totally inaccurate.  Consequently, the model can't take this into account.  How could it?

This year has shown a very high disparity between registered voters and likely voters.  It has been around 5-6% as opposed to the 1-2% that we see in normal years.    It is my theory that much of this discrepancy has to do with Hillary vs. Obama in 2008.  Both candidates made extraordinary efforts to register voters in all 50 states.  Many of these voters in non-swing states might not bother to vote this time.  However, in swing states, there will be a strong GOTV effort, I just can't imagine a 5-6% gap.

3) The MATH
Barack Obama has 4 distinct paths to victory:
Win OHIO
Win FLORIDA
Win VIRGINIA
Win COLORADO
I'm going to give the president Wisconsin.  His lead there is comparable to his lead in Pennsylvania, and I just don't see him losing it.  The president has fairly significant leads in all of the other swing states except North Carolina.  If he wins NC, he also wins Virginia and therefore the election.

If Obama wins Florida, it's over. If he wins Ohio, he just needs one of New Hampshire, Iowa or Nevada to win.  If he wins Virginia, he needs two little swing states
If he wins Colorado but loses all the other big states, he needs all 3 little states.
President Obama is a fairly strong favorite to win all 3 little states, especially Nevada

The president has a solid polling lead in Ohio, small leads in Virginia and Colorado, and is about even in Florida.  The only way that he can lose is if all of the state polls are systematically wrong.  Here's the problem:  for Obama to lose, the state polls must be all wrong THE SAME WAY.  All four states are very, very different and Obama has different strengths in each state.  Ohio has the auto sector,  Colorado a large Latino population and  Virginia has a large government population and Florida - well, Florida is Florida.  It's possible but unlikely for the state polls to be systematically wrong in one state.  It is virtually impossible for the state polls to be systematically wrong in ALL four states.  

Let's assume that the polls are systematically wrong in Ohio (a fairly unlikely but plausible proposition).  If the polls are not systematically wrong in the other states, Obama still has about a 95% chance of winning one of the other big states and therefore an over 90% chance of winning the election.

I don't think the polls overestimate Obama's support in Ohio.   Up until a couple weeks ago, The Cook Political report used to publish a characterization state races based on more accurate internal polls.  In all cases, the public polls UNDERestimated Obama's support as compared to his support in public polls.

So take heart everyone.  Work like crazy this weekend.  GOTV.  Democrats are going to win this thing.   If I had a mustache, I would be willing to bet it on the election!

Discuss

Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:21 PM PDT

Swing State Weather Forecast

by Cosecant

Much has changed since I first posted an election weather forecast earlier this week.  

Here's the latest weekend and election day weather forecast according to Weather.com

                         
State City Weekend Weather Tuesday
Sat Sun Mon Weather PP High
CO   Denver Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Sunny Sunny 0% 68
FL   Jacksonville Sunny Mostly
Sunny
Iso
Th Storms
Scat
Th Storms
50% 69
FL Miami Sunny Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Iso
Th Storms
30% 81
FL Tampa Sunny Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Scat
Th. Storms
60% 74
IA Des Moines Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Showers Partly
Cloudy
10% 56
NC Charlotte Sunny Few
Showers
Partly
Cloudy
Showers 40% 50
NC Raleigh Sunny Few
Showers
Partly
Cloudy
Showers 40% 52
NH Manchester Partly
Cloudy
Sunny Sunny Sunny 0% 42
NV Las Vegas Sunny Sunny Sunny Sunny 0% 81
NV Reno Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Sunny
Sunny Sunny 0% 77
OH Cincinnati PM
Showers
Mostly
Sunny
Mostly
Sunny
Sunny 0% 52
OH Cleveland AM
Showers
Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
Sunny 0% 46
PA Philadelphia Mostly
Sunny
Sunny Sunny Mostly
Cloudy
10% 47
PA Pittsburgh AM
Showers
Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Sunny 0% 49
VA Richmond Sunny Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
20% 52
VA Virginia
Beach
Sunny Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
Few
Showers
30% 66
WI Green Bay Mostly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Showers 50% 42
WI Milwaukee Cloudy Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Few
Showers
30% 44
It looks like great weather in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Iowa.  There is a chance of poor weather in Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina.  Overall, I'll take it!  Ohio having nice weather is especially good news.
Discuss

Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:27 AM PDT

Dear Americans: I salute you!

by Cosecant

I’m Canadian.  I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18.  I’ve always lived in major cities and I’ve never had to wait more than 90 seconds to vote.  Once, there were three people ahead of me in line, but that’s my record.  The polling stations have never been more than half a mile from my house.  I used to walk, but now that I’m older and lazier, I usually drive.

Voter registration is usually automatic.  You are sent a card in the mail.  Even if you forget your card, you can still vote.  When I was a student, I wasn’t registered since I didn’t live in the same place year-round.  I simply had to bring in my phone bill on the day of the election and I was allowed to vote.  My roommate didn’t have a bill in his name, so we had to swear an oath that he lived at my house and he was allowed to vote.

By contrast, it sounds like the US system is an abomination.  The registration process seems very complex and I hear stories of people waiting 2, 5 or even 8 hours to vote.  Also, because of the electoral college system, if you don’t live in a swing state, your votes are far less important.

And yet, if you compare Canada’s last federal election to the 2008 US election, the US had a higher turnout rate (by 0.7%) than we did in Canada.  Even with all of your voter intimidation, registration headaches and voter ID requirements, you still beat us.  

So, to all Americans: I salute your perseverance.  
To the single mother who needs to get a babysitter in order to vote, I salute you!
To the voter who needs to spend an hour on the bus to get to the polling station, I salute you!
To the urban voter who waits 5 hours in line in the rain, I salute you!  
To the worker with two jobs who needs to switch shifts in order to vote, I salute you!  
To the new Americans who still haven’t fully mastered English, who need to get through all of the voter registration red tape and voter intimidation, I salute you!

Your system is terrible.  Your people are resilient.

Discuss

I've been reading some comments from people worried about the weather next week.  Here's a summary of the weather forecast for next Tuesday's election in various swing states.  I've included the not-really-swing-state of Pennsylvania just to be thorough.  It looks like the worst of Sandy will be finished by Thursday.  For those of you in its path, my heart is with you.  Stay safe!

                         
State City Weekend Weather Tuesday
Sat Sun Mon Weather PP High
CO   Denver Mostly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Sunny
Cloudy 0% 57
FL   Jacksonville Sunny Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
20% 77
FL Miami Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
10% 80
FL Tampa Sunny Mostly
Sunny
Mostly
Cloudy
Cloudy 10% 81
IA Des Moines Mostly
Cloudy
Few
Showers
Few
Showers
Few
Showers
30% 52
NC Charlotte Sunny Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
Scat
Showers
30% 66
NC Raleigh Sunny Mostly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
Scat
Showers
60% 66
NH Manchester Mostly
Sunny
Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
10% 54
NV Las Vegas Mostly
Sunny
Sunny Sunny Sunny 0% 76
NV Reno Partly
Cloudy
Cloudy Partly
Cloudy
Partly
Cloudy
0% 71
OH Cincinnati Mostly
Sunny
Cloudy Scat
Showers
Showers 60% 56
OH Cleveland Mostly
Sunny
Partly
Cloudy
Scat
Showers
Showers 60% 52
PA Philadelphia Sunny Sunny Mostly
Cloudy
Showers 40% 57
PA Pittsburgh Sunny Partly
Cloudy
Cloudy Showers 60% 54
VA Richmond Sunny Cloudy Mostly
Cloudy
Cloudy 20% 65
VA Virginia
Beach
Sunny Cloudy Partly
Cloudy
Cloudy 20% 66
WI Green Bay Mostly
Cloudy
Cloudy Partly
Cloudy
Cloudy 20% 49
WI Milwaukee Mostly
Cloudy
Mostly
Cloudy
Showers Few
Showers
30% 47
Source: weather.com

As you can see, the weather Tuesday isn't great, but it's not terrible either. I wish the Ohio weather was better, although the weekend weather looks pretty good there.

Discuss
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